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p182 Aurum Coronarium

Article by Anthony Rich, Jun. B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge
on p182 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

AURUM CORONARIUM. When a general in a Roman province had obtained a victory, it was the custom for the cities in his own provinces, and for those from the neighbouring states, to send golden crowns to him, which were carried before him in his triumph at Rome (Liv. XXXVIII.37, XXXIX.7; Festus, s.v. Triumphales Coronae). This practice appears to have been borrowed from the Greeks; for Chares related, in his history of Alexander (ap. Athen. XII p539A), that after the conquest of Persia, crowns were sent to Alexander, which amounted to the weight of 10,500 talents.a The number of crowns which were sent to a Roman general was sometimes very great. Cn. Manlius had 200 crowns carried before him in the triumph which he obtained on account of his conquest of the Gauls in Asia (Liv. XXXIX.7). In the time of Cicero, it appears to have been usual for the cities of the provinces, instead of sending crowns on occasion of a victory, to pay money, which was called aurum coronarium (Cic. Leg. Agr. II.22; Aul. Gell. V.6; Monum. Ancyr.). This offering, which was at first voluntary, came to be regarded as a regular tribute, and seems to have been sometimes exacted by the governors of the provinces, even when no victory had been gained. By a law of Julius Caesar (Cic. in Pis. 37), it was provided that the aurum coronarium should not be given unless a triumph was decreed; but under the emperors it was presented on many other occasions, as, for instance, on the adoption of Antoninus Pius (Capitolin. Anton. Pius, c4).b It continued to be collected, apparently as a part of the revenue, in the time of Valentinian and Theodosius (Cod. 10 tit. 74).c

Servius says (ad Virg. Aen. VIII.721), that aurum coronarium was a sum of money exacted from conquered nations, in consideration of the lives of the citizens being spared; but this statement does not appear to be correct.


Thayer's Notes:

a See also Diodorus, XXXI.28 and 29.

b Often exacted, but also often enough remitted; for the list of the emperors involved and further references, see the Loeb edition footnote to one such instance.

c There is no end to the rapacity of governments, and this tradition continued to serve as excuse for it well into modern times: see Charles Gayarré's History of Louisiana, Vol. I, p205.


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